I have a special place in my heart for skilled trades teachers, especially those who teach in high school.
We depend on skilled trades workers. They fix the cars we drive, they build and repair the homes we live in and they do so much more. Yet more than 1.5 million skilled trades workers will retire by 2024, and there are not nearly enough students entering the trades to fill those jobs. Even at Harbor Freight Tools, as we’re building and opening two new stores every week, we struggle to find enough skilled electricians, carpenters, plumbers and HVAC technicians.
Our desire to support skilled trades education in American public high schools led to the creation in 2017 of the annual Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. I’m writing for two reasons: 1) to share the news that we recently awarded more than $1 million in prizes to high school skilled trades teachers and their high schools across the country, and 2) to ask you to help us identify more teachers we can reward this year with another $1 million in prizes.
The Harbor Freight Tools for Schools team, with the help of regional managers from our stores, visited the schools and surprised these extraordinary teachers with the news that they and their schools had won cash prizes. Three first-place winners received $100,000, and 15 second-place winners received $50,000, with the awards divided between the teacher and the school’s skilled trades program.
The first-place winners were:
• Charles Kachmar, who teaches metals and welding at Maxwell High School of Technology in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and whose students give back to the community by building beds for local homeless women and children in need of emergency shelter.
• Gary Bronson, an industrial diesel mechanics teacher at Laurel Oaks Career Campus in Wilmington, Ohio, whose students work on an International ProStar truck, replacing the brakes, wiring the lighting and completing its annual inspection.
• Andrew J. Neumann, a building trades teacher at Bay Arenac Intermediate School District Career Center in Bay City, Michigan, whose students design, build and market a new house from the ground up.
The surprise announcements were captured on video, and I hope you’re as inspired by these teachers as I am. You can watch here.
In the coming months, we’ll feature some of the winners in our coupon book that we mail to over 10 million customers each month. You can read about the winners here. Harbor Freight Tools also provided a $1,000 gift card to the 34 semi-finalists to support their high school’s skilled trades programs.
We’re going to award $1 million in prizes again this year. Applications are now open for the 2019 prize, and we need your help spreading the word. If you know a great high school skilled trades teacher, please encourage them to apply through June 17 at https://hftforschoolsprize.org/ .
Please join me in congratulating these amazing educators and in supporting skilled trades teachers and their students.
Harbor Freight Tools for Schools, LLC
Harbor Freight Tools for Schools, LLC, is an affiliate of The Smidt Foundation.